Olympian Willie Banks Comes Home to Simplot Games

For Immediate Release

Date January 31, 2017

Contact: Katie Damron (208) 220-5307

E-mail: media@simplotgames.com



Olympian Willie Banks Comes Home to Simplot Games


Pocatello, Idaho – Willie Banks is an Olympian based in southern California. He is from the San Diego area, competed for and graduated from UCLA, and has traveled the world as a track and field competitor and mentor. But despite his far reaches, Banks still calls the Simplot Games home.

For years, Banks has attended Simplot Games as a guest whose presence is celebrated. He can most often be found with a front row view of the triple jump event—the very event he competed in at the 1984 and 1988 Olympics.

“Simplot Games has become a comfortable place for me,” said Banks. “I have been so many times and have friends there so it really feels like coming home.”

These days, he spends much of his time at track and field camps and meets working with young athletes. His experience mentoring track and field’s rising stars has helped shape his perceptions of success and the attributes necessary to find it.

Commitment was something he learned when he was very young. As a Boy Scout and an active churchgoer, Banks entered track and field already familiar with long-term commitment.

“Because I already had a basic knowledge and love for commitment, it made it easier to train,” said Banks.

Commitment to the sport is important, but it is the setting and reaching of goals that propels an athlete to the top, Banks said. He teaches goal setting as a process that requires patience.

“Goals need to be flexible,” said Banks. “They must be difficult, but not unattainable.”

Banks has a reputation in the track and field world for being high-spirited during what most would consider a high-pressure moment. He could be found laughing and joking before competing in the triple jump, and for smiling midair.

According to Banks, he drew inspiration from comedian Steve Martin’s pre-show mantra, “I hope I make them laugh.” Banks wanted to excel in his performance, but also wanted to provide spectators with some entertainment.

“A good attitude has a huge effect on an athlete,” said Banks. “Mental strength can make you good on the day, but a good attitude can make you good for the season, or a career.”

At the 2017 Simplot Games, Banks is looking forward to seeing the competition. Some of the athletes have attended
track and field camps where Banks has mentored.

“I’m mostly looking forward to seeing friends,” said Banks. “Simplot Games is a great meet where I can connect with old friends.”

More than 2,100 athletes will come from across the U.S., Canada, and Australia to participate in the 39th annual Simplot Games. Simplot Games remains the nation’s premier high school indoor track and field event. Sponsored by the J.R. Simplot Company since 1979, the Simplot Games are held at Idaho State University’s Holt Arena in Pocatello, Idaho.

For more information on Simplot Games, please visit our website at www.simplotgames.com. You may also contact Lisa Woodland at (208) 235-5604 or Simplot Games Media Team at media@simplotgames.com.




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